Skip this one, and choose instead something featuring both a strong, resourceful girl and a story worthy of her.

SAMANTHASAURUS REX

A plucky dinosaur uses her brains and creativity to save her family from a fiery volcano.

Samanthasaurus Rex is on the quirky side, for a dinosaur. Her family members want her to be strong, to lead, and to make lots of noise, but she prefers painting animals over chasing them, sorting bones over gnawing on them, and using her words over biting and fighting. When the family goes for a hike, instead of whacking branches, scouting trails, and stomping out geysers, Samanthasaurus weaves ferns to make a rope, collects rocks, and uses a diamond to harness energy. The little dinosaur soon discovers that the mountain they are climbing is actually a volcano, and, predictably, she uses her rope, her diamond, and her loudest roar to save her oblivious family and get them back to safety. The detailed illustrations flesh out the otherwise sparse and stilted narrative, depicting Samanthasaurus (pink, natch) carrying a stack of books and teaching a class, for example. All told, the message here is a positive one about valuing all types of interests and leadership styles. Unfortunately, though, it suffocates this effort, leaving the characters and plot with no spark of life or sense of authenticity.

Skip this one, and choose instead something featuring both a strong, resourceful girl and a story worthy of her. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234873-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A winning tale about finding new friends.

FOUND

Bear finds a wonderful toy.

Bear clearly loves the toy bunny that he has found sitting up against a tree in the forest, but he wants to help it return to its home. With a wagon full of fliers and the bunny secure in Bear’s backpack, he festoons the trees with posters and checks out a bulletin board filled with lost and found objects (some of which will bring a chuckle to adult readers). Alas, he returns home still worried about bunny. The following day, they happily play together and ride Bear’s tricycle. Into the cozy little picture steps Moose, who immediately recognizes his bunny, named Floppy. Bear has a tear in his eye as he watches Moose and Floppy hug. But Moose, wearing a tie, is clearly grown and knows that it is time to share and that Bear will take very good care of his Floppy. Yoon’s story is sweet without being sentimental. She uses digitized artwork in saturated colors to create a lovely little world for her animals. They are outlined in strong black lines and stand out against the yellows, blues, greens and oranges of the background. She also uses space to great effect, allowing readers to feel the emotional tug of the story.

A winning tale about finding new friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8027-3559-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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